Friday, December 16, 2005

Widow's Walk

It's starting to sink in that this loss is forever. I've already donated most of my husband's clothes, not because I am callous (I kept some that I wear, some that I remember him best in, and some that have that essential smell for when I need to wallow in it), but because it has become terribly cold here, and he would want them to be used to keep people warm. I've had family members box up the things I can least bear to come across, and I am slowly reconfiguring his computer with the stuff I work on; before, I had been careful to remove all my work from his virtual desktop which, unlike his three-dimensional surfaces, he kept meticulously. I have substituted for these everyday traces a whole lot of new photos of him and of us.

It's going to be harder, I think, to forge any kind of real life for myself. My single friends think they understand what it's like, but being single felt very different back before I had chosen the person to make my life with. I can't distract myself from the grief or the loss by returning to single pursuits--I have a daughter to spend time with, babysitting hassles, and a lengthy inexperience with making plans for myself alone. It's a lot of work to stay busy and fulfilled when one is single (if not by choice), and in my case, my sorrow and resentment at having to make plans, set up outings, and arrange the necessary pieces to make them happen feels overwhelming. A very kind colleague has invited me to an occasional cultural event, but can't possibly realize how impossible even that evening out, with its various requirements (getting dressed without asking my husband for advice; finding a sitter I trust; agonizing over leaving my daughter when she spends so much time away from me anyway; and, looming largest of all, having to find the energy to go into someplace new Alone, and to have to Make Conversation) sounds.

I don't want to go out by myself. And that includes going places with friends.

My married friends are equally kind, but it's hard to ask them to forgive the part of me that hates them, that is so very angry that they still have a spouse, while mine is gone. It's painful to be a "threesome," and to have to have one conversation, where before we were couples and could pair off and then regroup. They are too generous to mention it, and perhaps it doesn't even enter their minds, but I have become a perpetual extra person, sensitive to the fact that "everyone else" is pretty much partnered off. At least, those who want to be. Their pairings make me even more conscious of the absence I carry with me everywhere, palpable as a tear.


At 2:40 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

It's obviously not at ALL the same, but I'm married to a doctor. I've spent most of our marriage functioning as a single woman in public since it's rare he can come to events with me. I usually end up hanging out more with the single folk. But then there's a HUGE part of my life that they can't relate to or understand. I don't have a child so that makes it easier to function in the single world, but it's hard to straddle those two worlds either way you stretch it.

It seems like it's another hit when you're down in the loneliness battle. I'm so sorry.

At 5:21 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Aw, Dorcasina, I'm so sorry. The resentment you feel is so easy to understand. The desire to NOT go do things is, too. In time, maybe you will. Until then, go easy on yourself. Do only what feels right. (Even though I know NOTHING feels right any more). Take baby steps. Sit and weep. Hug your little girl. I'm sorry it's so hard. I wish I could help.

At 2:14 AM , Blogger Terminaldegree said...

I am so sorry. One of my friends said that she was never so aware of couples (everywhere!) until she became a widow and was suddenly re-defining herself and her social life.

I have always been a single adult (not entirely by choice - the love of my life has never appeared), and I agree that it isn't easy to be single in a "Noah's ark" kind of world. There may come a day -- some day -- when it will actually feel empowering to take on the "guy" tasks and be successful at them. (I bought a good book on home repair and have muddled along...) Yes, it's very hard to be a "single" (and I don't have a child to compound the difficulty, as you do, although I hope to adopt in another two years), but you're going to be able to do this.

Like Yankee Transplant, I wish I could help.

At 7:55 AM , Anonymous mindspin said...

The heartwork you are doing now leaves little energy for other things. There will come a time to push yourself back into the world a little, to embark on brave moments - you'll know that time when it comes. Right now being brave means getting through the hours of a day and discerning what works and what doesn't. But you know this, you live this.

In the meantime, the tiniest things can have goodness in them; when you find something that does, return to it and draw strength. I have an entire garden because there is a restorative joy for me in working out of doors for an hour or a day, digging and tending. I discovered this sustenance when my days were darkest and emptiest and I was quite alone.

This I do know. Alone, we are forced to find the wellsprings of our own souls in order not to die of thirst.

At 7:21 AM , Blogger ABDmom said...

As mindspin says, resist the feeling that you "should" be going out or doing things, because it would be "good for you" to get out, or because somebody else tells you it would be good for you, or because the person who asked you is nice, or whatever.

There is absolutely no sense in pushing yourself into the social world right now--NONE. You need to take care of yourself as best you can, and that doesn't involve the extra work of being "social." Some day, you will feel up to seeing friends, or going to the symphony, or whatever. It will be hard then, but you'll feel ready to take that challenge. Right now, just getting through the day is more than enough of a challenge.

And if people don't get that, well then, they're not the type of friends you need right now. They should be able to handle, "I can't do that right now" with empathy and grace. BTW, this includes me. If the day of our date at the MLC comes and you're not up for it, I UNDERSTAND, and it's ok. Really.

I know you know all of this--I'm just trying to reinforce it. If you're like me, you'll start to doubt yourself and think, "Maybe they're right, maybe I should be doing things," when they're not right and when you shouldn't be pushing yourself into anything new.

As always,I am so sorry.


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